Skip to main content

View Diary: DK GreenRoots: Saturday Morning Home Repair Blogging 3.47 (85 comments)

Comment Preferences

  •  Good morning Tom! (13+ / 0-)

    Are you ready for that move to Maine yet? Although I've never been there, my SIL is proof that it's a great place to grow up, and the fresh lobster, etc, is among the best anywhere.

    Enjoy - and LMK when you've got something done for your own turn at the wheel here - and welcome aboard the Guest Host madhouse... I'm really looking forward to your effort, you always have something solid to contribute, and I appreciate it.

    "The first duty of government is to protect the powerless against the powerful."
    Code of Hammurabi, 1700 B.C.

    by CodeTalker on Sat Jul 04, 2009 at 06:15:20 AM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  ‘morning, CT. Yep, (13+ / 0-)

      I’m splitting time between Virginia and Maine these days—kinda moving incrementally, if that makes sense. At the farm in Maine now for two weeks.

      Very few things happen at the right time, and the rest do not happen at all: the conscientious historian will correct these defects. -Herodotus

      by TerribleTom on Sat Jul 04, 2009 at 06:19:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  My project this week: preparing for the ice age (15+ / 0-)

        Well, not exactly the ice age--more like the next big ice storm that knocks out utility power for a week in the middle of winter. Not very green or Fourth-of-Julyish, is it?

        Except for yesterday, it rained all week here in the boonies of Maine and I had to scrap plans for mowing, bush whacking and firewood cutting. So I took up an indoor project that I've been putting off for years: Installing a panel with a transfer switch to help make using a portable generator during emergency outages more convenient and much safer.



        As background, I already had a small sub-panel that powered the furnace, well pump, sump pump and hot water heater. Since it already had three of the things I wanted available in a power outage, I replaced the sub-panel with a transfer panel and moved a few selected circuits from the main panel to the sub.

        [Another part of my finagle involved rewiring the hot water heater back to the main panel. Not only are they power pigs that'll kill a small generator, but I have dual HW systems and can always get hot water from the furnace. I only use the electric hot water heater in the summer when the oil/hydronic heating system is off.]

        My new transfer panel isolates and feeds 7 circuits: refrigerator, furnace, well pump, sump pump, living room (read: TV and Internet), hall/stairwell/misc. lighting and the garage. You flip the switch to the right and those circuits are on grid power. You flip it to the left and they’re connected to the generator.

        I also added a light and receptacle next to the transfer panel so I can see what I'm doing once I fire up the generator and cut over to generator power.

        So no more extension cords running through windows for me (and I vigorously deny ever having illegally back-fed a generator through a dryer outlet...giggle). My genset now plugs right into a proper generator inlet and feeds those 7 circuits almost automagically. This turned out to be a good rainy day project.

        For those who like to look under the hood:


        No, that stuff isn't out of level; I'm just a crappy photographer.


        It’s a Reliance transfer panel that you wire yourself like an ordinary sub-panel. (In truth, it is really a Siemens sub-panel of a type I’ve wired a couple of times before.) It costs about $120 which is about three times more than the Siemens sub-panel without the manual transfer switch links, but still not all that exorbitant.

        Even though you have to wire it entirely yourself and supply the circuit breakers, etc., I much prefer putting in a clean ‘emergency services’ sub-panel over those so-called "pre-wired" gizmos that hook into your main panel. Not only do those pre-wired shiny objects end up costing more and limiting your flexibility, but they don’t save all that much time (if you’re reasonably competent at wiring, that is). But worst of all, they leave your main panel looking like a plate of day-old spaghetti. It might just be me, but I hate, hate, hate ugly rats’ nests in electrical boxes. YMMV.

        Approximate DIY cost:

        Transfer switch/panel: $120
        Circuit breakers: $50
        Generator inlet: $47
        100’ wire (10AWG Romex): $70
        Odds and ends: who knows, but not much. (Had a few parts on hand in my junk bucket.)
        So about $300 total.

        Very few things happen at the right time, and the rest do not happen at all: the conscientious historian will correct these defects. -Herodotus

        by TerribleTom on Sat Jul 04, 2009 at 06:22:39 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Nice work, Tom - looks like Navy or A/F wiring (9+ / 0-)

          I love to see a nice neat panel - got spoiled by my old boss and the guy that rewired Mom's house; both were ex-Navy electricians, known for their neat and tidy layouts. My own panel here still looks like the proverbial rat's nest for the most part, as I've never rewired most of it, so you can tell my work from the previous...

          My buddy has wired a number of generator manual switch panels, and your work gets a high grade from him, too.

          (Not that I'd ever back-feed my own generator thru that "spare" electric dryer outlet since I replaced the dryer with a gas model, mind you; I just don't have all the parts to wire my own panel yet, is all)

          "The first duty of government is to protect the powerless against the powerful."
          Code of Hammurabi, 1700 B.C.

          by CodeTalker on Sat Jul 04, 2009 at 06:36:38 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Strac job, dude (8+ / 0-)

          Strac is an Army expression meaning straight up, well done,ready for inspection.

          I have to go the other way. The idiot who wired my service panel wired in a plug socket so that you can unplug three circuits from the service panel and plug them directly into a generator. I'd post a picture of this if I had one, I'm sure you could use a good laugh. I still haven't eliminated that yet but the 3 or 4 times our power has gone out, once for 24 hours, Ive just gone the extension cord route for the refigerator. We have a woodstove for heat and you can ccok on it too. Dewalt Battery power lights work real well, we always keep em plugged in

          I'm throwing in a picture of my service panel, without dead front in the interest of generating a few laughs. This picture is AFTER I spent several hours correcting the more major defects and I have at least 2 more days of work to make it close to right. Thats the way working on my house goes---you hae to spend 2 days fixing whats there before you can spend a day adding somthing new

          Good job, Tom! I can see you know your stuff

          Happy just to be alive

          by exlrrp on Sat Jul 04, 2009 at 06:55:02 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  LOL! Thanks for the pic. (8+ / 0-)

            Yikes! Believe it or not, I've seen worse.

            I don't know much of that army terminology (was altogether too successful dodging the draft during the VietNam era), but I think the Marines would say that panel is "unsat", eh?

            The funny thing about it is that, IMHO, doing neat panel wiring doesn't actually take any longer than creating a rat's nest. In fact, once you have stuff running every which way, you end up working against yourself and that takes time too.

            FWIW, I think it's a matter of adhering to a systematic approach of laying in the grounds first, then the neutrals and finally the hots, using a consistent routing scheme.

            I actually have two "styles" which I'll call "tight-and-square" (the transfer panel above) and "looped" (used more often for large and busy main panels). With the former--best for smaller sub-panels, IMO--I wire bottom-up, with the lower branch circuits put in first and the service feeds put in last.

            With the "looped" approach, the service cables are installed first (too hard to manipulate the big conductors later when the box has a bunch of smaller wires in it). After laying in the grounds, I pull all the wires to the bottom of the box on their respective sides, trim them off there and then loop them back upwards to their points of connection. (This works well when most of the circuits enter at the top of the box as appears to be the case in that panel of yours.)

            A good rule of thumb: measure once, cut twice. Yeah, I know that sounds ass-backwards, but it works well in wiring to cut wires a little long and then do final snipping in place.

            Glad to see you're back and blogging in one piece, man.

            [If you ever get around to reworking that panel, let me know if you need any advice, although I'd imagine you have a pretty good idea what you're doing.]

            Very few things happen at the right time, and the rest do not happen at all: the conscientious historian will correct these defects. -Herodotus

            by TerribleTom on Sat Jul 04, 2009 at 07:39:46 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Thanks Tom (8+ / 0-)

              You shoulda seen it before I fixed it, at least partially. I have no idea what was in the guys mind who wired it originally (probly dope!) but the real surprising thing was that they even got the electricity turned on in the frst place.
              Where I spent most of my days (CA) you can't get the power turned on without an inspection sticker. Anyone looking at this knows it wasn't inspected.

              When I started, 3 or 4 of the circuits had as much as 6 extra feet of cable in the box (no, I'm NOT kidding) As you can se, there's few cable clamps and whats there is what I added.

              I'm going back and redo it all, or maybe I'll die first and the next guy can figure it all out.

              I say again: the guy who put this house together should be restrained from ever using even the most basic tools---by force if necessary.

              Happy just to be alive

              by exlrrp on Sat Jul 04, 2009 at 07:59:26 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

  • Recommended (146)
  • Community (68)
  • Elections (34)
  • Media (33)
  • Trans-Pacific Partnership (31)
  • Environment (30)
  • 2016 (29)
  • Law (28)
  • Civil Rights (27)
  • Culture (27)
  • Science (24)
  • Barack Obama (24)
  • Hillary Clinton (24)
  • Climate Change (23)
  • Republicans (23)
  • Labor (22)
  • Marriage Equality (19)
  • Economy (19)
  • Josh Duggar (18)
  • Jeb Bush (18)
  • Click here for the mobile view of the site